25-28 January, 2018
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06 October 2016
RUSSIAN TOURISTS HURRY BACK TO TURKEY
Turkey’s popularity as the top Russian holiday spot has survived the recent travel ban – early figures show that Russian tourists have flocked to Turkish beaches as soon as they were allowed to. In the 12 days after 3 September, when the Russian government lifted its ban on charter flights to Turkey, 30,000 Russians headed to Turkey on holiday – the equivalent of 10 planeloads per day.
Even this was not enough to meet the demand, with the Russian Tour Operators Association reporting almost 100% occupancy on the first Russia-Turkey holiday flights. This bodes well for the rest of the autumn, when around 350,000 Russian tourists are expected in Turkey as charter flights restart.
The return of the Russians is welcome news for Turkey’s tourism industry, which is keen to get back to normality after a tough 2016 – total tourist numbers are down about 30% in 2016. Nevertheless, it is easy to underestimate the sheer number of vacationers in Turkey. The latest figures show 14 million tourists came to Turkey in 2016, which is a huge number even after the drop. And despite the well-publicised suffering of Turkey this year, the largest share of visitors are still from Western Europe – 600,000 from Germany, 270,000 from the UK, and 200,000 from the Netherlands.
Turkey has worked hard to bolster its tourism sector and keep numbers up. Several schemes have helped attract tourists, including a subsidy of $6,000 per charter flight for operators bringing package tourists to Turkey. After a successful run in the summer, this scheme will now extent until the end of the year.
Another promising area for Turkey in 2016 is Islam-friendly tourism, aimed at Middle Eastern and European visitors. Hotel occupancy in some parts of Turkey over the recent Muslim festival of Eid was almost 100%, giving a new way to attract what could become an important segment in the Turkish travel market.